Hospital saves over £1m in agency costs

IPSWICH Hospital has slashed the amount it spends on agency nurses by more than a million pound in the last two years, it has emerged.

Craig Robinson

IPSWICH Hospital has slashed the amount it spends on agency nurses by more than a million pound in the last two years, it has emerged.

Bosses say the saving is down to a thorough review of their finances and the use of their own part-time staff.

The figures, released through a Freedom of Information Act request, show that the Heath Road hospital spent £1.1m on agency nurses in 2004/05.


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However this was reduced to just £27,000 last year - a saving that has been put down to a more intelligent use of finances.

Jan Rowsell, a spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said: “For some time we have been looking very carefully at everything we spend. We have taken a very long hard look at how we use money and what we do with it.

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“Agency staff do a tremendous job but we felt our patients wanted consistency - with care from nurses who regularly work together as a team.

“We are extremely grateful for what agency nurses do and they are very important but for us the priority is to use our own staff and as a result we only try to call them as a last resort.

“There will always be a need for agencies - say if we have to open areas up because we have a sudden influx of patients. We couldn't do it without them but most of our cover now comes from our own pool of staff.”

Ipswich Hospital has its own central bank of part-time staff that it can use instead of agency employees.

Mrs Rowsell said there were “several hundred” nurses on their books who for whatever reason - such as family commitments or on-going educational training - could not work full-time.

As a result they are registered with the hospital's central bank and can be brought in to cover when someone has to have time off work.

“They are all fully trained and have undergone our rigorous selection procedures,” Mrs Rowsell added. “However for whatever reason they simply want to work on a more flexible basis. The bank also includes some full-time staff who are registered in an effort to boost their income - say if they are saving up to go travelling.”

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